Windows throughout Penrith and Eden have been transformed into stained glass-effect works of art.
They have been created as part of an annual national Window Wanderland project, which was first started in 2015, with support from the Eden Valley Artistic Network (EVAN) and Penrith Chamber of Trade and commerce.
Gwen Bainbridge, who is the lead artist for Penrith, said people who want to get involved can choose any theme they want, but she has started a new music theme for town by transforming a window at EVAN’s gallery, in Corney Place, into work celebrating 1920s to 30s swing.
“I am particularly interested in swing dancing because I usually dance with Swing Dance Cumbria, so I have done one based on that era,” said Gwen.
All people need to get involved is a bit of grease proof or tracing paper and Gwen created some packs to help get people started, which are available at Penrith library.
“There are all the materials you would need in there, there is different coloured tissue paper, sugar paper, a glue stick and there is also an information sheet to tell you how to do various effects to create your own window.
“You work back to front, decorating it with tissue paper so that the light can come through and finally, you may have some silhouette – you can create those with black card or black sugar paper to create beautiful effects, which stand out when they are lit from behind – people can see them from outside, just like a stained glass window,” said Gwen.
She said the project was originally designed for people in the community to get together, so it is a perfect way for any community to join together, particularly during lockdown.
“You feel you are part of something still,” said Gwen.
Karen Babayan, who is the project’s lead artist in Appleby, ran a Zoom demo online, which is available to watch.
It provides insight into how people can do their own windows.
Dedicated pages on social media have started detailing which streets the wanderland windows are in, and there is also information on the EVAN website.
“People can wander the streets in the dark and see all these lovely images coming up, from Darth Vader to Strictly Come Dancing and to comic characters – there’s all sorts of things going on, it’s really lovely,” added Gwen.
So far, Penrith, Appleby, Kirkby Stephen and Alston Moor have joined forces to create this Eden event and there is hope that more and more villages/towns might join in as the idea spreads.
The project is funded by Penrith Town Council, Eden Valley Artistic Network (through Eden District Council) and Penrith Chamber of Trade, whose president, Stephen Macaulay, contacted Simon Whalley (EVAN), when they realised that they were both hoping to make this happen within the whole of Eden.
An EVAN spokesman said: “Window Wanderland works with communities to inspire people, transforming their windows into magical scenes that can be viewed and admired by everyone in their neighbourhood.”
It is also hoped that QR codes are going to be created, which will be put around town, as a new way for the community to engage with Eden musicians who are struggling because of COVID.
By scanning the code, people can access a video of the musician on their phone.